Guanciale is a salty pork product and an Italian delicacy that’s added to many traditional dishes. Unfortunately, it’s generally challenging to come by this type of meat in the States.
If you manage to acquire it, you might be wondering – how long does guanciale last? Although it depends on a couple of factors, guanciale can last up to six months if stored correctly.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about guanciale and explain how you can store it properly to prevent it from going bad.
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Can Guanciale Go Bad?
Guanciale is made by curing pork jowl or pork cheeks for about three weeks. All the fat slowly melts away during this process, and only one-third of the meat product remains.
Guanciale can sometimes be substituted for bacon or pancetta, even though it has a slightly stronger taste. Due to its delicate texture and seasoned flavor, guanciale is more commonly used as an ingredient than a dish’s centerpiece.
In fact, it can be frequently found on charcuterie boards and in different types of pasta and sauces. If you’ve ever eaten the famous Italian spaghetti alla carbonara, you may have even tasted guanciale without knowing it.
On the contrary, you just need to slice it, and it’s ready for the dinner table.
However, just because guanciale is cured, it doesn’t mean that it can’t go bad. There’s no such thing as a meat product that can be edible forever. Even smoked and cured products, which are made to last longer, have an expiration date.
If you’re wondering how you can even tell whether your guanciale has gone bad, there are a couple of things to look for.
First, if the meat starts to change color, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t eat it. To be more specific, if the color becomes slightly more brown or grey (in some extreme cases, it can even turn green), it means that it has gone bad.
Another thing is the smell. As with all types of meat products, cured or not, you can tell a lot about its quality by smelling it. So, naturally, if it smells differently from before, toss it in the garbage right away. This could be a sign of bacteria growth or even mold.
How Long Is Guanciale Good For?
The duration of your guanciale’s quality can depend on many factors, starting with the overall quality of the meat.
Italian guanciale is by far the best guanciale you can find. Furthermore, if the pork was cured and seasoned correctly, it will increase the time you can eat it.
The form of your guanciale can also be a determining factor. Solid pork cheeks will always last longer than sliced pieces. In fact, the larger the piece, the longer it will last.
Its quality also depends on how you store the meat. It goes without saying that once opened, it should be stored in a refrigerator. Another option is to place your guanciale in a freezer, which will undoubtedly make it last longer.
Generally speaking, guanciale can taste good and be safe to eat for up to six months from the production date. While some claim that it can only remain refrigerated for a few months, if your guanciale is high-quality, it can be eaten even after the six months mentioned above.
Does Guanciale Need to Be Refrigerated?
Once you open and slice your guanciale, it has to be refrigerated afterward. There are different ways you can store it, as long as you keep it in your fridge.
It’s best to use an airtight plastic bag or some kind of vacuumed container. By refrigerating your guanciale, you will avoid condensation and mold.
In traditional Italian meat production settings, guanciale and other meat products are usually hanged in a cold, ventilated space. However, keeping guanciale in the fridge might be an even better option.
How Long Will Guanciale Last in the Fridge?
As mentioned, guanciale can last in the fridge for a more extended period if it isn’t sliced or cut in any way. But sometimes, you have no choice.
For example, if you have some leftover guanciale from your dinner, all you need to do is wrap it in a plastic cover. If guanciale is preserved in this manner, it can last from 10 days to two weeks.
On the other hand, large pieces of guanciale can stay in your fridge for up to six months. However, it might lose some of its freshness if you store it for too long.
Also, if your guanciale stays in the fridge for an extended period, its texture will harden, and it will be difficult to slice it once you take it out. Therefore, it’s always best to eat it as soon as possible.
Can You Freeze Guanciale?
Another option you have is to freeze your guanciale. This can be a great idea if you have too many pieces of guanciale or if you don’t plan on eating it any time soon.
Just keep in mind that frozen guanciale should be stored in a sealed container.
How Long Does Guanciale Last in the Freezer?
Technically speaking, if you freeze your guanciale, it can stay in the freezer for as long as you like. However, the longer it remains frozen, the more taste it will lose along the way.
If you keep your guanciale in the freezer for over a year or two, its taste, smell, and texture will slowly start to change.
When you decide to take the guanciale out of the freezer, place it in the fridge for at least one day.
Guanciale is a delicious salty meat product that can enrich the flavor of your dish. How long guanciale lasts depends on a few factors, like the meat’s quality, the curing process, and how you choose to store it.
If you managed to get a hold of it, don’t let it go to waste. Even though guanciale can stay in your fridge for six months, it tastes the best when it’s fresh.